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A new way to explore the world of Fall of Magic! #ZineQuest
559 backers pledged $23,053 to help bring this project to life.

Funded! - Introducing the Song of the Swineherd

Posted by Ross Cowman (Creator)

Wow! What an amazing first couple of weeks. Thanks to over 350 backers, Songs from the Axe and Fiddle is in full production!  It has been 5 years since I played the first demo of Fall of Magic and it feels SO good to be designing for this world again. Thank you so much for this opportunity! 


In this update, I'm going to discuss why I made this, who it's for, and how this changes your experience of Fall of Magic with a detailed explanation of the Song of the Swineherd (which backers can download now!)

Why Make This?

I'm a little addicted to watching games of Fall of Magic. Somehow seeing a new group of humans unroll the scroll and do something totally unexpected never gets old for me!  What characters will they choose?  What will the Magus be like? What will they ask the Pool Crone!?

Yet, even though there is already so much variety in a game of Fall of Magic my designer brain couldn't stop wondering if there might be a way to change the seed that spawns each narrative to explore wholly different kinds of stories using the same components?

It turns out the answer was yes!

Who It's For

Songs From the Axe and Fiddle is for new and experienced players alike. For new players, the Songs stand alone and do not require any knowledge of the core narrative to play. For experienced players, the Songs can be used to give more variety to your one-shot games of Fall of Magic, chained together to form a longer campaign, or interspersed within a standard game of Fall of Magic as way to further develop the world and add more depth to your campaign. 

How this Changes Fall of Magic

Each of the Songs can be played either as a one-shot or as a multi-session campaign.  The Songs each present a different Prelude, Names & Titles, Starting Location and Mechanics, most notable of which is the Chorus. I'm going to talk a bit about these using the current draft of the Song of the Swineherd as an Example. 

Song of the Swineherd
Song of the Swineherd


"The Swineherd woke one day to find their pigs had gotten loose! They scoured all of Barley Town to bring the herd back home. "

The prelude sets the fictional expectations for our game. It establishes who we are and what we are doing while leaving some room for interpretation. 

Part of my process of creating the songs was taking a hard look at the locations and the characters and asking myself, what other kinds of stories can we tell here? In this Song I wanted to create an opportunity to explore Barley Town and its day to day problems through the eyes of the Swineherd. This prelude makes that clear from the get-go.

Names & Titles

Choose your name: Harper, Fern, Yumi, Sparrow, Mathilda, Kyo, Sihan, Dex, Oakley, Zeal, Esteban, Chip, or Pops

Choose your title: 

Field Boss, Bully, or Layabout of Mathilda's Farm

Gambler, Cook, or Guest of the Axe and Fiddle

Fruit Vendor, Florist, or Fiddler of the Market

Nun, Midwife, or Orphan of the Abbey

Hero, Hermit, or Ghost of Swine Hill

This song includes some extra names since we'll each be playing two characters (more on that later). The titles as you see, are based on Scene names in Barley Town rather than Locations on the map. This focuses the play on that particular region. Kind of like how you might say you live in New York City, while traveling, but while in New York you  would have to specify the Burrough. 


Moving the Swineherd

In the Song of the Swineherd we each play two characters and the Swineherd is shared between us instead of the Magus. On your turn you play AS the Swineherd and place them on one of the scenes in barley town with at least one of the other Player's characters. 

The other major change is the Chorus. The Chorus is a special prompt that can be used during any Scene, replacing that Scene's normal Story Prompt. 

Each Chorus has a Call and a Response. The Call is what needs to happen in the story to trigger the Chorus. And the Response is what happens after. For song of the Swineherd it goes like this:


Call: When the Swineherd asks "Have you seen my Pigs?"

Response: Another player choses one:

  • Pepper’s terrible noise
  • where Choi got stuck
  • what Hogdog ate
  • Wendell’s kindness
  • where Mamma slept
  • what Jennifer stole
  • Turnip’s mischef

Playing the Songs

 I really love how just a few changes can totally change the context of the game and create a brand new experience. I'm really excited to think about  using this as a prelude and then carrying over some of the characters to a regular game of Fall of Magic or even as an epilogue to explore the lives of some of the characters after the main campaign. 

Song of the Swineherd - Download

If you back for a dollar or more I'll save you the trouble of cutting and pasting the Swineherd's Song and post it in a backer update for you to try out. Those hogs won't find themselves!

Stretch Goals?

I really don't want to promise anything that won't live up to the quality of the base game. I feel like the four songs I'm working on right now are all really strong and unique, It is possible I could  add another couple of songs, but honestly y'all if I have any great ideas I'm going to just put them in the zine and while I could pretend I wasn't going to do it unless hit some figure, I would only be bluffing!

Thanks so much for your support! Please share this campaign with your friends! 

Sincerely, Ross

Ross Cowman, Michael Schwartz, and 6 more people like this update.


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